Definition of engulf in English:



[with object]
  • 1(of a natural force) sweep over (something) so as to surround or cover it completely.

    ‘the cafe was engulfed in flames’
    figurative ‘Europe might be engulfed by war’
    • ‘The bus driver and two passengers fled from the bus seconds before it was engulfed in flames in St George's Road, last week.’
    • ‘This caused a catastrophic flood that engulfed the whole island.’
    • ‘Mr Swales said flames were coming out of the front door and the living room was engulfed in fire.’
    • ‘When they arrived on the scene, the house was engulfed in flames with the blaze having spread to the upstairs area of the family home.’
    • ‘In three minutes, the club was engulfed in flames.’
    • ‘Consider the unprecedented scenes of anarchy and chaos that engulfed Britain last Monday night.’
    • ‘Are these a coincidence, or has an evil force engulfed the town?’
    • ‘He said by the time he arrived home, his entire house was engulfed in flames.’
    • ‘Teachers, students and parents stood behind yellow police tape and watched dumbfounded as their school was engulfed in amber flames.’
    • ‘Pedestrians were stopped in their tracks and cars came to standstill as the huge blanket of smoke threatened to engulf the whole town.’
    • ‘When the police arrived 20 minutes later, the bus was still engulfed in flames, which hampered rescue efforts.’
    • ‘The rain stopped and the sun crept out, engulfing the whole garden with its pale gold afternoon light.’
    • ‘The place was already engulfed in flames when he and his roommate Jerome awoke.’
    • ‘A woman was plucked from a car seconds before it was engulfed in flames.’
    • ‘However, the country was soon engulfed in a bloody civil war in which one million people lost their lives out of a population of 14 million.’
    • ‘After failing to get to the girls, Waddington ran from her home screaming to the neighbours for help just before the house was completely engulfed in flames and smoke.’
    • ‘Its corridors were engulfed in choking smoke as the fire took hold.’
    • ‘The family's terrace house was quickly engulfed in flames.’
    • ‘All of a sudden the place was engulfed in massive red and yellow flames.’
    • ‘Within minutes, however, the entire city was engulfed in a torrent of rain - easily one of the heaviest in recent times.’
    inundate, flood, deluge, immerse, swamp, wash out, swallow up, submerge
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    1. 1.1 Eat or swallow (something) whole.
      ‘the toad can engulf nestling birds’
  • 2Powerfully affect (someone); overwhelm.

    ‘a feeling of anguish so great that it threatened to engulf him’
    • ‘Overwhelming relief and joy engulfed Jason upon seeing her and he took a step forward.’
    • ‘His infectious enthusiasm and energy engulfs players and supporters alike.’
    • ‘As she opens her son's wardrobe a wave of emotion engulfs her and her expression becomes a mixture of love and anguish.’
    • ‘He recalled how just the sight of his daughter in the early years had brought his grief flooding to the surface where it had threatened to engulf him.’
    • ‘Loren fought the feeling of helpless panic that threatened to engulf him.’
    • ‘My mind was sending too many thoughts, too many flashes and words, too much for me to take in, fatigue threatening to engulf me.’
    • ‘She would not allow herself to wallow in the misery that had been threatening to engulf her since his death.’
    • ‘The room was spinning probably due to lack of food and injury, closing her eyes to block out the sickness threatening to engulf her - it was hot in the room, really hot.’
    • ‘A deep, overwhelming wave of emotion engulfed me, and I felt tears well in my eyes.’
    • ‘Rose went and sat down, as the memories threatened to engulf her.’
    inundate, flood, deluge, immerse, swamp, wash out, swallow up, submerge
    View synonyms


Mid 16th century (formerly also as ingulf): from en-, in- ‘in, on’ + gulf.